Feeds

UK Gov deal opens up 2m desktops to MS rivals

Now there are three games in town. Well, two and a half...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The UK Government's Office of Government Commerce has struck a "ground-breaking" three-cornered deal covering the use of desktop productivity software in Government departments. The deal is the upshot of protracted and at times acrimonious negotiations between the OGC and Microsoft, during which OGC CEO Peter Gershon repeatedly stage-whispered that Redmond had better cut its prices or uk.gov was off to "alternatives."

The OGC now claims that the deal, which takes the form of memorandums of understanding with IBM, Sun and Microsoft, will save £100 million over three years, and covers two million desktops. It is not entirely a defeat for Microsoft, in that the people buying productivity software will still be able to to buy Microsoft Office if they want to, but equally it's not a massive win either. Gershon has not done a huge volume margin gouge with one supplier, but has instead moved to legitimise Microsoft's competitors. Sun in particular sees it as a crucial foot in the door.

It's not clear where the £100 million comes from, but it could be that this is the amount that would be saved if all purchasers did actually go for Office, according to whatever pricing deal the OGC has now struck with Microsoft. That is of course an entirely theoretical saving, given that at least some of the purchasers are going to go with alternatives, but the OGC will certainly have achieved attractive rates with Sun and IBM. The alternatives, since you ask, are StarOffice from Sun and Smartsuite (no, we don't know why either) from IBM. So it seems reasonable to elect Sun as the big winner here.

Sun technical consultant Dave Pinnington told The Register today that his company sees the move as the first stage in breaking "Microsoft's monopoly on the public sector desktop." He agreed that the inertia of IT managers sticking with Microsoft for the sake of a quiet life still has to be overcome, but pointed out the OGC announcement will have the effect of giving legitimacy to the competition, and hence will help break down the barriers.

He also points to the huge costs associated with sticking with Microsoft right now. Many PCs in the public sector just plain won't run Windows XP and Office XP, so new hardware would have to be deployed, as is always the case for customers who try to stick with Microsoft's bracing upgrade escalator. Sun cheekily pitches the notion that if UK government didn't upgrade to XP for five years, going for StarOffice instead, then it'd save more like £1 billion. That again is a notional figure, but increased deployment of StarOffice combined with cutbacks in hardware upgrades most certainly would achieve savings in excess of £100 million.

Even if StarOffice is a wild success in government, at this stage the OGC deals will not directly mean a triumph for open source. Most deployments are likely to be on existing Windows platforms, but nevertheless it will become easier and more feasible for the UK public sector to begin experimenting with StarOffice-Linux combinations. Sun also sees the moves as giving it some traction in selling Sun Ray thin client systems into the public sector - the game, certainly, has opened up.

Related stories:
UK closer to switching 500k desktops from MS Office?
UK Gov agency threatens to dump 500,000 Windows desktops

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.